7 Popular Leadership Quotes (You Should Totally Ignore)


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Sometimes even the best business leaders need a bit of advice, but here are some popular quotes we think you definitely shouldn't take to heart.

Article 3 Minutes
7 Popular Leadership Quotes (You Should Totally Ig

We've all been in a position where some sound advice is just the thing we need to help set us on the right track and overcome life's hurdles, and when it comes to the trials and tribulations of running a business, sound advice is often exactly what we need.

However, some of the best advice is to simply ignore what people are telling you; your gut can be the best barometer of how to proceed. With that in mind, here we look at some well-known quotes around how to be a good leader and examine just why you shouldn't listen to them:

1. "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far" - Theodore Roosevelt

Not necessarily the threat of violence, but the threat of dire consequences for those who fail to do what they're told is no way to run a business. Leaders should be inspiring those around them to want to work for them; fear really has no place in a modern, successful organization.

2. "Leadership does not depend on being right" - Ivan Illich

You don't necessarily have to be right in everything you do to be a good leader, but if you aren't supporting your business' goals through your actions and basing this on real evidence then undirected strong leadership will simply take your organization in the wrong direction.

3. "You have no power at all if you do not exercise constant power" - Major Owens

Being willing to step back and let others take the reins when needed can be empowering both for yourself, your business and those you trust to take charge. Being able to let go ensures you can take a mindful approach to tackling your organization’s problems, while also giving others the opportunity to show their worth.

4. "The sharp employ the sharp" - Douglas William Jerrold

Yes, while this is true, the sharp also recognize the benefits of diversity and not just employing those like themselves. It is essential to create a diverse and varied workforce in order to reap the benefits of higher levels of innovation and avoiding the stifling nature of groupthink.

5. "I'm a shepherd, not a sheep, and I've always prided myself on being a leader and not a follower" - Dustin Diamond

Sometimes we all have to follow. This is a simple fact that many leaders forget, but it can make a real difference to how we engage with those around us. Understanding that we don't always have the answer and that others may be in a better position to lead is essential to working in the best interests of the business.

6. "Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small" - Lao Tzu

Again, the sentiment here is just right, in that it will always be easier to tackle problems or challenges before they escalate. That said, a true leader will not be daunted by the need to make drastic change when it is necessary and difficult. If something needs to be done, a strong leader will make that call.

7. "Being a leader is making the people you love hate you a little more each day" - Patrick Ness

Sorry, this just isn't true. While the idea that leadership can take the form of conflict is sometimes necessary, there is no need for adversity in the workplace. When we create conflict we alienate those we should be working most closely with. Much better is to work in a supportive, collaborative manner that brings people with you, rather than riding roughshod over them.

Ultimately, understanding that not every piece of advice is something you should follow is important when determining how to be a good leader. It boils down to knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and being able to discern the good from the bad.

Insights for Professionals

Insights for Professionals provide free access to the latest thought leadership from global brands. We deliver subscriber value by creating and gathering specialist content for senior professionals.


Join the conversation...